-By Eric Monder

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'This sucks on so many levels,' says Janessa in Jason X, the tenth entry (thus the X) in the Friday the 13th series. Could Janessa be a French deconstructionist reviewing her own movie? Alas, no. She's merely another nubile victim, seconds away from being killed by Jason, the hockey-masked killer who used to haunt teenagers at summer camps. Remember?

Much of Jason X is like that: funny without meaning to be so. So, to a certain degree, it's pleasurable to watch the now cryogenically frozen Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) come back to life (in the year 2455) and methodically kill the teenage scientists aboard a state-of-the-art spaceship. There's is a bit of a plot involving the devious teacher of the group (Jonathan Potts), who is out to keep Jason alive in order to make money off his celebrity, but even that touch of suspense gives way to splatter and gore.

The futuristic angle is clever enough. Never mind that some of the special effects are woefully executed. Genre fans will note the film refers explicitly and implicitly to a whole range of sci-fi pictures, and, for the most part, Jason X plays like Mel Brooks' Spaceballs (the silly spoof of the Star Wars series) crossed with Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris (the solemn, slow-moving Russian space opera). The highlights include a scene where Jason invades a holographic video game, and the climactic battle sequence between a cybernautic version of Jason and a Matrix-inspired tech-droid (Lisa Ryder).

Non-fans might give up on Jason well before this climax, but they should know better--he'll keep coming back, no matter what. And even high-art snobs will recognize when the tongue is firmly in cheek. ('He's screwed,' one scientist says of a victim literally impaled on a giant screw.) Jason X gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "summer camp."

--Eric Monder

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